Dynamite Ali: East Prairie teen pushes the limits of possible in - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Dynamite Ali: East Prairie teen pushes the limits of possible in life

East Prairie Senior Ali Keck (Photo credit: Colson Photography, LLC) East Prairie Senior Ali Keck (Photo credit: Colson Photography, LLC)
Ali held by father Brad Keck in July 1998 shortly after Ali's birth. (Photo credit: Julie Keck) Ali held by father Brad Keck in July 1998 shortly after Ali's birth. (Photo credit: Julie Keck)
Ali's first surgery repaired her diaphragm at just five days old. (Photo credit: Julie Keck) Ali's first surgery repaired her diaphragm at just five days old. (Photo credit: Julie Keck)
Ali had 15 more surgeries including four major back surgeries to correct severe scoliosis in her spine. (Photo credit: Julie Keck). Ali had 15 more surgeries including four major back surgeries to correct severe scoliosis in her spine. (Photo credit: Julie Keck).
Doctors said Ali would most likely not live past the age of five. (Photo credit: Julie Keck) Doctors said Ali would most likely not live past the age of five. (Photo credit: Julie Keck)
EAST PRAIRIE, MO (KFVS) -

Like many high school seniors, Ali Keck of East Prairie, Missouri will head off to college. But for Keck, even living to age 18 has pushed the limits of possible.

Against all odds, this self-proclaimed planner takes one day at a time but doesn’t take a single moment for granted.

Keck is wrapping up her high school career and getting ready to take on the world in college.

“I’m kind of nervous,” Keck said. “I’m excited, but I’m nervous.”

Ali has already been accepted to Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and she must have had one heck of a college application.

Academically, Keck is near the top of her class. She’s a majorette, editor of the school newspaper, president of the Future Teachers of America Club, on the Beta Club, the choir and plays flute with the school band.

“It’s almost like she’s a piece of dynamite,” said East Prairie English teacher Dorothy Hutcheson. “Whatever she chooses to do, she explodes.”

Keck is an impressive student by any standard, but even more so as doctors said she wouldn’t even live long enough to do any of the things she is doing.

“According to all of the odds and research, I’m not supposed to be here,” Keck said. “I’m not supposed to be walking in the hallways at school, I’m not supposed to be a twirler, I’m not supposed to be able to do all these things.”

Keck has Multiple Pterigian Syndrome. Most babies born with the rare genetic disorder die before, or shortly after birth. Those who do not typically don’t live past the age of five, but Keck is anything but typical.

 “She has blown past every obstacle, ever limitation they’ve set,” said mother Julie Keck. “She has said. 'No I don’t think so. You say I can’t live past five. I’m gonna show you. You say I won’t live past 10, watch me. You say I can’t twirl and come home with gold medals, watch me do that too.'”

Ali Keck has competed in numerous Junior Olympic baton twirling competitions and brought home dozens of gold and silver medals.

“When I go to twirling I can just forget about all that I’m going through,” said Ali Keck. “I can do what I want and just twirl.”

Keck has a lot she would no doubt like to forget. Her life has certainly not been easy. In her 18 years, she’s undergone 16 surgeries including four major back surgeries to correct severe scoliosis in her spine.  

“So now I have two titanium rods, a rib, and four screws along my spine to keep it straight,” Ali Keck said.

Her first surgery took place just five days after she was born. Doctors repaired her diaphragm to allow her to breathe on her own. While recovering in the neonatal intensive care unit baby Ali did something that was truly “Ali.” The days old baby took matters into her own hands removing her breathing tube herself.

“The nurse said I’ve got four babies and they’re not supposed to cry because they have breathing tubes and I hear a crying baby,” said Julie Keck. “She found Ali sucking on her ventilator tube. She was hungry.”

“We knew right then how strong she was,” said Ali’s father Brad Keck.  

“It was basically I’m done with this, I have bigger things to do, and when do we start? And it’s never stopped. From that point on it’s been a joy it’s been the ride of a lifetime,” said Julie Keck.

Now, Ali Keck does just about everything any other high school senior does. She drives, she went to her Winter Formal dance, and she’s looking forward to college.

“I want to major in psychology and actually double major in family studies with an emphasis in child law,” said Ali Keck.

Her parents are reluctantly getting ready to become empty nesters.

“I’m proud for her,” said Brad Keck. “It’ll be hard to see her go, but I want to see her succeed, I want to see her take life on and see what’s out there for her.”       

That’s been Ali’s mission all along. No matter what stands in her way, she takes life on and refuses to say "I can’t."

“If I sat and brooded over all I’ve been through, and all the challenges I still have to go through life would be terrible,” said Ali Keck. “You’ve just got to look at the brighter side of life. I have a wonderful family, I have wonderful friends. I’ve been blessed beyond measure. Just to look at all the things I’ve been able to accomplish, why not go for more?”

There are certainly no guarantees, but Ali Keck said she’ll continue to ‘go for more’ as long as she can.

“Every day for me is a miracle. I’m not supposed to be here,” Ali Keck said. “I will cling to that knowledge that if I’m where God wants me to be, it’ll all work out.”

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